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The Philosophy of Epictetus$
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Theodore Scaltsas and Andrew S. Mason

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199233076

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199233076.001.0001

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Epictetus on Proairesis and Self

Epictetus on Proairesis and Self

Chapter:
(p.87) 6 Epictetus on Proairesis and Self
Source:
The Philosophy of Epictetus
Author(s):

Richard Sorabji (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199233076.003.0007

According to Epictetus, we are our proairesis (will or rational decision). This is a striking view of the self, but we need to recognize that there are two senses of proairesis and two senses of self not previously distinguished. Otherwise, we shall find statements in Epictetus that appear to contradict his bold claim. Once we have got clear on this, we can see that even though Epictetus revived Aristotle's choice of proairesis as a central term for ethics, his position is rather different from Aristotle's superficially similar claim that the proairesis is the self. We can also see how Epictetus differs from earlier Stoics who had not allowed proairesis to be central. He is not as orthodox as is commonly claimed. The last part of this chapter explores how Epictetus' influence extended to the Neoplatonists, who, starting from Plotinus, borrowed their terminology for self-awareness chiefly from him.

Keywords:   Aristotle, Neoplatonists, Plotinus, self-awareness, will

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